Fifteen goals. It was the first time since 1994 that the Flyers played in a game with such a high score. Back when Sergei Bobrovsky was five years old, Claude Giroux was six, and the man of the night, Steven Stamkos, was probably still eating leftover cake from his fourth birthday.
It was a pretty sloppy, ugly game by both teams. Defense was almost non-existent. All told, after four goaltenders were used between the two teams, nearly a quarter of the shots taken went in. Playing one of the more dangerous and dynamic offenses in the East, the Flyers let players skate up and down the ice practically untouched for much of the night. And the likes of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis – a known Flyer killer – made them pay.
Out of the gate, it seemed like this was going to be a game with plenty of scoring – all going the Flyers’ way. In the first five minutes, the home team had already established a two goal lead coming off of back-to-back tallies by the top line of Richards, Zherdev, and Nodl. Nodl opened it up, and Zherdev notched the second.
The Lightning finally got their first shot of the night on the power play more than eight minutes into the game. And they made it count as Stamkos put away his first of three. Within sixteen seconds, following the rebound of their second shot on goal, Adam Hall buried a puck past Bobrovsky to tie the game at two goals apiece.
From there, the game spiraled into utter chaos as the two teams combined for a nine goal first period, finishing with fifteen total on the night.
It was the fifteenth and final goal that was the difference maker, snapping a 7-7 tie about five minutes into the third period coming off a Nate Thompson tally.
All told, the Flyers had three separate two goal leads, from their opening pair to consecutive goals by Hartnell and Briere and later Zherdev and Meszaros.
“That’s when you’ve got to button it down and lock it in, force them in to situations that they don’t want to be in, cheating and what not, trying to get goals,” said Flyers’ defensive leader Chris Pronger, “and from that you’re going to gain a lot of offensive opportunities, but we let it slip away.”
For Sergei Bobrovsky, it was the first time he had been pulled from a game, but he seemed relatively unfazed after giving up 4 goals on 11 shots and starting the second period from the bench.
“Of course it’s very tough when they pull you out of the game,” he said through a translator after the game. “This is life, this is the game, it’s going to happen again, you just move forward.”
Questions surround Bobrovsky and Peter Laviolette’s decision to start him in his 12th straight game, including back-to-back contests on Monday and Tuesday.
When asked whether he would give Bobrovsky a day off following a debacle such as this, Laviolette stuck to his guns, reminding everyone that “He just had a day off yesterday”, between Tuesday night’s contest in Montreal and this Thursday night game.
Whether he sticks with Bobrovsky going into Saturday’s match up against the Eastern Conference leading Washington Capitals remains to be seen, but it’s sure to be an interesting decision for the team as a whole.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Special Teams: Matching up against what is one of the most dangerous power play units in hockey, the Flyers obviously had their work cut out for them. The pairing of Stamkos and St. Louis proved to be deadly, with 10 points between the two of them as Stamkos picked up a hat trick and a pair of assists, and St. Louis assisted on five goals – including all three of Stamkos’.
The Flyers’ inability to shut these guys down, combined with their anemic power play, failing on five separate chances, spelled doom in an offensive shootout like this.
St. Louis / Stamkos: It’s been said before, but the message doesn’t lose its edge when you stop and think, ten points. These two players alone put up more points than the Flyers’ top two lines combined.
Fast and Loose: The key to this loss was obviously not the Flyers’ lack of scoring, as was the case in their shutout loss on Tuesday, but rather a lack of defensive responsibility. Instead of bearing down and fending off the Lightning after they built any of their three two goal leads, the Flyers continued to roll along with the crazy game that unfolded before them, ultimately falling victim to the team that settled into their only lead the way the Flyers should have all along.